Catalogue


Brushes with power [electronic resource] : modern politics and the Chinese art of calligraphy /
Richard Curt Kraus.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1991.
description
xii, 208 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0520072855 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1991.
isbn
0520072855 (cloth : alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
10741810
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 173-197) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"In Kraus's hands, the study of calligraphy becomes a metaphor for a much wider topic--the persistence of traditionalism in modern China. That traditionalism is obvious to anyone who has even a superficial knowledge of modern China; but it is vague and so diffuse that it is difficult to gain a satisfying intellectual comprehension of it. By focusing on a small aspect of that traditionalism--but an aspect with deep metaphoorical resonance--the author helps us to gain a more focused understanding of Chinese cultural life."--Richard Madsen, author ofMorality and Power in a Chinese Village
Flap Copy
"In Kraus's hands, the study of calligraphy becomes a metaphor for a much wider topic--the persistence of traditionalism in modern China. That traditionalism is obvious to anyone who has even a superficial knowledge of modern China; but it is vague and so diffuse that it is difficult to gain a satisfying intellectual comprehension of it. By focusing on a small aspect of that traditionalism--but an aspect with deep metaphoorical resonance--the author helps us to gain a more focused understanding of Chinese cultural life."--Richard Madsen, author of Morality and Power in a Chinese Village
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1992-03:
Lately there have been some excellent exhibition catalogs on the art of Chinese calligraphy that include occasional references to the context of individual calligraphers. But this is the first to put the "art" into a cultural context. Perhaps it could only be written by a political scientist (at the University of Oregon), and it is happy testimony to interdisciplinary cross-fertilization in much contemporary scholarship. Students would be well advised to start here for any study of the subject, since Kraus writes in a very lively fashion and includes basic principles of Chinese characters and a background to the writing thereof by way of introduction. Chinese calligraphy is the heart and soul of Chinese culture and remains so today even as so many other arts have become embalmed in tradition; and it is still used to both establish and promote the ruling elite and its ethos, however superficially they may seem to have changed. Although the historical focus here is on postliberation China, everyone will welcome this book for the insight it provides into the whole civilization.-J. O. Caswell, University of British Columbia
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, March 1992
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Summaries
Long Description
Chinese calligraphy has traditionally been an emblem of the ruling class and its authority. After a century of mass revolution, what is the fate of this elite art? Richard Kraus explores the relationship beween politics and the art of writing in China today to explicate the complex relationship between tradition and modernity in Chinese culture. His study draws upon a wide range of sources, from political documents, memoirs, and interviews with Chinese intellectuals to art exhibitions and television melodramas. Mao Zedong and other Communist leaders gave calligraphy a revolutionary role, believing that their beloved art reflected the luster of authoritative words and deeds. Calligraphy was joined with new propagandistic mass media to become less a private art and more a public performance. It provided politically engaged citizens with subtle cues to changing power relationships in the People's Republic. Claiming neither that the Communists obliterated traditional culture nor that revolution failed to relieve the burden of China's past, this study subtly examines the changing uses of tradition in a modernizing society.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
The Institution of Calligraphy in Imperial Chinap. 1
Chinese Calligraphy as a System of Powerp. 3
Demystifying Chinese Charactersp. 15
The Legend of the Calligraphy Sage, Wang Xizhip. 26
The Brush as an Instrument of Rulep. 36
Art Criticism as Political Commentaryp. 45
Calligraphy and Revolutionp. 53
The Cultural Dilemma of the Revolutionary Elitep. 55
The Gentlemen Scholars of the Central and South Lakesp. 65
The Failed Assault on Chinese Charactersp. 75
Leninist Calligraphy for Mass Politicsp. 83
Cultural Revolution Calligraphy: Big Characters and Leftist Linesp. 96
Evil Characters, Poison Pensp. 109
The Unsuccessful Penmanship of Chairman Hua Guofengp. 123
Postrevolutionary Calligraphyp. 139
Calligraphy's New Conventionsp. 141
A Personal Art in a Changing Societyp. 151
The Orchid Pavilion's Modern Legacyp. 159
Notesp. 173
Credits for Illustrationsp. 199
Indexp. 203
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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